Mobile Apps: from expectation to reputation
Whether your mobile apps make extravagant claims of sophisticated service or simply propose to accomplish a straightforward task efficiently, those promises create expectations. Not living up to expectations can damage your reputation as fast as disgruntled users can post their star ratings.
Fortunately this state of affairs doesn’t have to be entirely ominous. The agile nature of app lifecycles gives you room to make sure – as the app evolves – that things are running smoothly… and keep them running smoothly.
Rising to the challenges of mobile app performance
Based on our experience, we have identified two of the main challenges of ensuring good mobile application performance.
- First of all, back-end servers and APIs serving mobile apps have their own development cycle and production incidents. In other words, sometimes performance issues are external to your app, making them difficult to detect and deal with.
- Secondly, another challenge specific to mobile is the variety of devices and variations in network coverage (3G/4G and the old 2.5G still exists in remote areas). This has everything to do with real-user context, so you need to be aware of it to ensure performance.
A combination of synthetic and real-user monitoring tools can keep you informed about how the app is performing with external technical elements, and what its users are experiencing on their devices wherever they are. Sometimes you can anticipate glitches and fix them before they affect users.
Pinpoint issues with synthetic transactions
Synthetic or active monitoring robots run transactions to monitor the level of service your app is providing, harvest metrics to identify trends, and also alert you immediately when incidents occur. This type of monitoring in a calibrated environment on a stable wi-fi connection is designed to show whether any slowdowns stem from server issues rather the mobile operator network, for example. Diagnostics in the form of videos and screenshots, in addition to detailed session traces, let you drill down to where the issues are.
Troubleshoot the performance delivered to your real users
Alongside that type of permanent, 24/7 monitoring, you also need to measure the experience of the real users of your app, in their particular environments (any device, operator or specific wi-fi network, geolocation, OS, browser, and versions thereof). This is what analytic or passive monitoring of real traffic does. A code dedicated to troubleshooting is embedded in the application (SDK), so that you see what’s happening with real-user interactions, and also scrutinize the impact of third-party components.
Used together with synthetic transactions, the troubleshooting SDK makes it possible to relate user impact to internal mechanisms.
Monitoring for present & future mobile app performance
With these solutions, you can keep track of how well your apps are serving your users and of how close you come to meeting expectations. Reporting and data visualization tools help you to document service levels, trends, and improvements. Still, your reputation is never really established once and for all – the cycle continues. Devices, configurations, locations, operators may change, and your app will too, so you have to strive for continuous, agile improvement.